Comedian Steve Rinaldi is coming in from the cold this weekend and he couldn’t be happier about it.
With the pandemic putting a damper on most indoor live entertainment over the past year, Mr. Rinaldi has had to perform in some unfamiliar surroundings in recent months.
“I performed on a beach. I performed on a boardwalk. I performed in a parking lot. There was one night it was raining. There was like a nor’easter and we were in this tent and the tent was rocking. We really are the insects of the industry,” he said of comedians.
“It’s like they’re trying to kill us. But we’re just keep creeping back into your house, your phone or computer screen. We’re going to find our way in there.”
The South Philadelphia-born-and-raised comedian will headline tonight’s Next Big Star Standup Comedy show at the Milton Theatre. It will be the first performance held at the venerable venue in almost six months since it closed down Dec. 11 due to state restrictions.
He will share the bill with fellow comedians Eddie Gallagher, Tyler Dark and host Keith Purnell.
Performing since 2012, Mr. Rinaldi decided to sign up for an open mic night in his hometown back in 2012. From there he would go out night after night working on finding his comedic voice at local bars and comedy clubs around the Philadelphia area.
In 2015, he made his way out to Chicago where he took improv classes at both the Second City & IO. Steve worked Chicago comedy clubs like Laugh Factory, Zanies and Jokes & Notes.
Talking a lot about family life, relationships and growing up in Philly, he has shared the stage with other comedians such as Dom Irrera, Hannibal Burress, Artie Lange and Chris Redd of “Saturday Night Live.”
A regular in the Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York comedy clubs (in normal times), he has had to take matters into his own hands lately and performs weekly at The Laughing Fox Tavern in Magnolia, New Jersey.
“In October I started my own comedy show at a restaurant in Magnolia, New Jersey, that has a theater in the basement. And it generally seats 150 people but unfortunately (currently) our max is 40. But the great thing about that is I created a room I wanted on Tuesday night, so it’s not going to be a large crowd. But I’m still able to work out and critique my craft all things considered. So I’ve been getting on stage weekly, every Tuesday and I perform every Monday night in Atlantic City at the Tropicana.
“It’s at the front end of the week so there’s less people but I’m still performing and it’s safe to (do so) as New Jersey has been doing a good job of being strict with the guidelines, social distancing, setting up everybody with masks and stuff like that. But as far as getting on stage, this is my first weekend gig since January.”
He’s excited to get on stage at the Milton Theatre as it will be his first time performing there and a return to a little bit of normalcy. Aside from the smaller rooms and the outdoor shows, he said he did one online spot but stopped.
“I did one Zoom show and I retired. It was strange for me to sit in my living room and do my comedy to a screen. It’s the direction that comedy is going right now. We had a very virtual year,” he said.
“I started in Philly with open mics and then I made my way out to Chicago and I started classes at Second City with improv and then I was in New York for a little bit and you’re trying to learn how to perform live comedy in front of audiences of every size. And now you’ve got to do it by yourself in a room. Who knows how long that’s gonna be? So I’m really excited about doing it in a theater.”
As another outlet for his comedic energy, Mr. Rinaldi also started a podcast with his buddy Mike Adams called “Ball Breaking.” Like his act, the podcast is edgy and not necessarily family-friendly but it’s just two guys getting together and talking about whatever comes into their head. It can be seen on YouTube and heard on places such as Apple and Spotify.
“I’m having fun with it now but it’s something that I never really wanted to do. But now when I get together with Mike Adams, another Philly comedian, we started together, we know each other well. So the title fits. We want to make it apparent in these times of cancel culture that we are just playing around with each other,” he said.
“We’re standup club comics. We are going to talk about topics that may generally be a little bit edgy, but we’re just two guys sitting down having a good time being funny. We’re trying out material that we would generally bring on stage. It’s been fun and we’re getting a lot of great feedback.”
In today’s landscape, being edgy can have its drawbacks but it’s the work of a comedian, he says.
“I think most comedians get into comedy because they want to say what they want. And if you don’t enjoy what we say, you can either not watch what we do or change the channel,” Mr. Rinaldi said.
“If I ever get the opportunity to be on television or if you’re not into my comedy, just step out of the room for 40 minutes. My intention is never to hurt anybody. You definitely work off of reactions in your standup. That’s why I’ve always talked about my personal life and my personal experiences. A lot of standups don’t do that. But I always felt most comfortable in comedy talking about my friends and family relationships and there’s a lot of self-deprecation. That’s my style of standup.
“As a kid, I was just into that edgy, risk-taking type of standup — Richard Pryor, early Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock — anybody who makes you cringe but makes you laugh about the situation.”
While he gets to perform in a theater this weekend, it might be back to the parking lot next week. But he keeps chugging along.
“Steve Harvey has a quote. I don’t remember it word for word. But he says something about how you drive into your ultimate goal. You’re going to hit a pothole. You’re going to get a flat tire. You’re going to overheat and the car’s going break down. You might make a wrong turn and end up in the middle of nowhere, lost and scared and you might get robbed,” he said.
“But if you keep going and you hit that spot that you were shooting for, it’s magic. (Comedian) Bill Burr says it all the time. With standups, it has like 5 percent to do with talent and like 95 percent to do with drive and perseverance and that’s what we standups do. We persevere. Look at what we’re going through right now? We’ll get through it.”
To learn more about Mr. Rinaldi, visit SteveRinaldiComedy.com.
The show is part of a three-night reopening weekend for the Milton Theatre.
Closely working with the Delaware Department of Health, the theater will open its doors once again to limited capacity audiences with strict health and safety regulations in place. Face coverings arerequired with modified seating for social distancing.
Along with the comedy show tonight, Saturday sees the yacht rock band Boat House Row performs at 8 p.m.
Sunday at 7:30 p.m. is the show “Over The Rainbow: The Music Of Judy Garland’ with Broadway’s Grace Field.
Award-winning performer Ms. Field returns with the best and most nostalgic music of Judy Garland. She has an impressive resume of performances including “Oklahoma,” “Les Miserables,” “South Pacific,” “Carousel,” and more.
Limited tickets are available for purchase online at MiltonTheatre.com. For individuals or groups larger than four, call the box office at 302-684-3038 for assistance.
The Milton Theatre is located at 110 Union St. in downtown Milton.
Blippi at state fair
Blippi the Musical will entertain children and families on Friday, July 23 at 6 p.m. at the Delaware State Fair’s M&T Bank Grandstand.
With over 5 billion views and nearly 11.1 million subscribers, Blippi The Musical brings the energetic character Blippi off the screen and onto the stage with production, audience engagement and music.
Children from the ages of 2 to 7 years old across the world have quickly taken a liking to Blippi’s personality and teaching lessons. In the live show, they will continue to learn about the world around them while singing and dancing.
Tickets go on sale today at noon and will range from $20 to $40 (plus ticket fee) or upgrade to VIP tickets for $150. Gates open at 5 p.m.
Delaware State Fair Summer Concert Series concerts can be purchased online at www.delawarestatefair.com, or by calling ETIX at 1-800-514-3849.
Sam Hunt (July 22), Lauren Alaina and Maddie & Tae (July 24), Demolition Derby (July 25), TobyMac (July 26), Tedeschi Trucks Band (July 27), Riley Green (July 28), I Love the 90’s Tour (July 30), and Hank Williams, Jr. (July 31) will also appear in July during the 2021 Delaware State Fair.
Also, the Roots & Boots Tour with Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye and Aaron Tippin will play June 12 at the Quillen Arena on the fairgrounds.
On the trail
Offering interactive outdoor art, never-before-seen and exclusive to the state, the Delaware Discoveries Trail is adding its 10th and newest mural to the Chase Center in Riverfront Wilmington.
The art-focused trail was launched in September by the Delaware’s Tourism Office with the goal to create Instagram-worthy moments with interactive street art painted by local Delaware artists to highlight and bring attention to the great destinations found throughout the state.
With the freshly painted 10th Discoveries Trail location, the immersive art adds brightness to the scene at Riverfront Wilmington, joining the colorful Delaware Children’s Museum’s mural.
Designed and painted by Terrance Vann, another artist who hails from the state, the artwork is a celebration of recent historic moments, with Delaware-centric balloons adorning the recently nationally spotlighted Chase Center, the location of President Joe Biden’s acceptance speech in November.
While exploring these locations, travelers can submit four #DelawareDiscoveries of the artwork at DelawareDiscoveries.com for a chance to receive a limited-edition prize.